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Local news and weather for Las Cruces, El Paso, Alamogordo, Silver City, Ruidoso, Anthony, Cloudcroft, Deming, Truth or Consequences, Elephant Butte, and all of Southern New Mexico and Far West Texas.

McCamley Steps Down From Lujan Grisham Administration

Apr 16, 2021

SANTA FE – After more than a year of managing an unprecedented deluge of unemployment claims brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and overseeing the disbursement of more than $3.5 billion in funds to displaced workers throughout the state, New Mexico Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley will step down from his position.  Here is a statement from the Governor's office:

McCamley’s resignation is effective Friday, April 16. Ricky Serna, who had previously served as deputy secretary at the Department of Workforce Solutions, will serve as acting secretary until a full-time replacement is identified; the administration has begun searching for qualified candidates.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

  AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The nation’s next big voting battle is underway in Texas. Legislation advancing in the GOP-controlled Texas Capitol could outlaw 24-hour polling places, eliminate drive-thru voting and make it a crime for elections officials to mail unsolicited absentee ballot applications. Put another way, Republicans would ban everything Democratic Houston did to expand ballot access last year, when the threat of the coronavirus made voting in-person more hazardous. Republicans have angrily rejected accusations that they are trying to suppress minority turnout, saying the measures only rein in powers county leaders never had in the first place. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott supports the measures.

Reward Offered for Information on Las Cruces Shooting Suspect

Apr 16, 2021

  Las Cruces Crime Stoppers is offering up to $1,000 for information that helps police identify the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting that injured a 26-year-old man.
 
Shortly before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 14, Las Cruces police were dispatched to the report of a shooting that occurred at a home on the 4900 block of Calle Bella Court. Officers arrived to find a 26-year-old man with a gunshot wound to his leg. The victim was transported to a local hospital with injuries believed to be non-life-threatening.
 
Police have reason to believe the suspect was also injured during the incident. Video and still photos appear to show the suspect bleeding from his left arm.

Grim Water Outlook For Las Cruces Region

Apr 16, 2021
Bureau of Reclamation

April is always a critical decision making month across the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and this year is no exception. At the April 14th EBID board of directors meeting, District leaders heard updates by Dr. Phil King, EBID’s Hydrology and Engineering consultant, and Irrigation Systems Director James Narvaez on the expected surface water irrigation outlook.

King noted that Elephant Butte Reservoir inflow has “plummeted” and combined storage in both Elephant Butte and Caballo reservoirs is about 247,000 AF, an increase of 27,000 AF over last month.

If you’re looking to track your water usage or you’re wondering if your bill is within budget, there’s now a website for that! As a Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) customer, you now have access to a new tool to manage your monthly bill while conserving water and natural gas. Appropriately named UtilityHawk, the recently launched web portal can be used on any device (smartphone, laptop, tablet, desktop computer etc.) to access information 24-hours-a-day, seven days a week. “The user-friendly web portal provides immediate access for our customers,” said Jose Provencio, LCU deputy director business services, “allowing them to have more control over their monthly water and natural gas consumption and in turn their pocketbook.” The UtilityHawk application turns “Big Data” into information customers understand and use to their benefit. You can also set your language preference to English or Spanish.

El Paso Matters

Apr 16, 2021
El Paso Matters CEO Robert Moore

El Paso Matters CEO Bob Moore discusses the suspension of use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, the addition of crisis intervention teams in the county and legislation targeting gender-affirming care for transgender youth.  

Mayfield High School

  Under advisement from the New Mexico Public Education Department and the Department of Health, Mayfield High School will voluntarily switch to remote learning for the next ten days while Las Cruces Public Schools investigates allegations that a so-called secret prom occurred over the weekend. Remote learning will be in effect between Friday, April 16 and Monday, April 26 to mitigate any potential spread of COVID-19.  

The district was notified Wednesday that a complaint was filed with the governor’s office alleging the event happened April 10 and involved potentially hundreds of students from Mayfield High School. The event was not sanctioned by Mayfield High School or LCPS and did not happen during school hours. The complaint suggested students engaged in behavior that potentially threatened the health and safety of the student population. 

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation has reported 20 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, but no additional deaths for the fifth consecutive day.

The latest numbers released Thursday brought the pandemic totals on the tribe’s reservation to 30,338 cases and 1,262 known deaths.

Tribal officials had ordered a lockdown last weekend over fears that a new variant could drive another deadly surge. The Stay-At-Home order required all Navajo Nation residents to refrain from unnecessary travel to help limit the spread of the virus, including a new and more contagious strain.  

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Federal water managers have released their annual operating plan for the Rio Grande, and it doesn't look good.

Flows have been meager so far this year because of below-average snowpack and precipitation. The Rio Grande is one of North America’s longest rivers and a major water source for millions people and thousands of square miles of farmland in New Mexico, Texas and Mexico.

  SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Thursday announced 230 additional COVID-19 cases and 1 death. As of today, there are 118 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. This number does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

Dr. Tracie Collins

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins says the state has tapped into a network of community health providers, faith leaders and other local organizers to share information as officials look to boost the number of people who are vaccinated.

www.freedigitalphotos.net. Image: luigi diamanti

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A medical marijuana producer in New Mexico has been fined $142,000 for worker safety violations related to a fire at a Santa Fe facility last October that seriously injured two employees.

The New Mexico Environment Department fined New MexiCann Natural Medicine on Wednesday citing six violations. Authorities say the fire started after two employees were in the midst of a cannabis extraction process.

Another busy week of news, and we have you covered.

We begin with the region’s in-depth coverage of a busy week at the border.  We talk with two young men from El Salvador who entered the U.S. in El Paso.  The powerful story of their hopes for asylum, as they look for a better life here.

We’ll also hear how the Las Cruces City Council is considering a ban on plastic bags at most retailers.

Plus…we’ll see what the military is doing to address extremism in its ranks.

All that, plus the week’s other top stories, commentary, and more.

  SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The state of New Mexico has reached a $260,000 settlement with a whistleblower who alleged retaliation by state insurance regulators after she reported that a major health care insurer was allegedly avoiding tax payments. An attorney for Shawna Maestas confirmed the financial settlement Wednesday after terms were published on a state clearinghouse website. Maestas previously oversaw the state’s financial audit bureau. Two of her former colleagues at the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance are still pursuing the state for a 20% share of a roughly $18 million settlement with Presbyterian Health Plan for alleged underpayments on insurance premiums. Presbyterian did not acknowledge wrongdoing and fraud charges were dismissed.

Update: Officer-Involved Shooting in Santa Rosa

Apr 15, 2021

Santa Rosa, NM – On Monday, March 29, 2021, at around 9:00 a.m. a New Mexico State Police officer was involved in an Officer Involved Shooting as New Mexico State Police Investigations Bureau agents were attempting to serve an arrest warrant on Robert Lee Chavez, 47, of Santa Rosa.

Chavez is the suspect in a case being investigated by State Police Investigations Bureau agents in which a John Deere compact tractor was stolen.  During the initial stages of the investigation in February of 2021, State Police agents served a search warrant at Chavez’s residence and located a firearm inside.  Chavez was subsequently charged with Felon in Possession of a Firearm.  He was released on bond. State Police agents completed their investigation on Chavez for the stolen tractor and an arrest warrant was issued for the charges of Receiving Stolen Property (2nd-degree Felony), Extortion, and Bribery of a Witness (3rd Degree Felony). 

Government employees will not be able to use qualified immunity as a legal defense in state court under the recently ratified New Mexico Civil Rights Act.

Laurie Roberts, a state policy advocate for the Innocence Project, says the act will create an easier path for those seeking to bring a claim against a government body, relying on state courts rather than the federal judicial system. 

“Instead of having to go to federal court and allege a violation of your federal constitutional rights, instead, you can go to your local district court, in front of a judge or a jury of your peers, you know, a judge elected by New Mexicans,” Roberts said. “And the local governments are not able to use qualified immunity as a defense the way that they would be if you were forced to go into federal court.”

The Bulletin on the Radio

Apr 15, 2021

Elva Osterreich has a preview of this week's issue with stories about native plants for gardeners, Casa for a Cause, UPick Mesilla Valley Apple Orchard and a downtown Las Cruces business that combines live music, history and coffee.

Local Newscast 2

Apr 15, 2021


Local Newscast 1

Apr 15, 2021


SANTA FE, NM.  — Several New Mexico medical marijuana providers are warning of a potential cannabis shortage in late June, when the first provisions of a new law go into effect to legalize recreational marijuana. Recreational cannabis sales don’t commence until early 2022.

But several medical marijuana businesses led by Ultra Health said Wednesday that there could be a run on medical marijuana supplies in late June of this year.

National Park Service

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.-Environmentalists and Native American activists say the Biden administration’s review of the federal oil and gas leasing program should result in more protections for an area of northwestern New Mexico that's considered sacred.

The fight over drilling on federal land bordering Chaco Culture National Historical Park has spanned multiple presidencies, and an effort to update the area's management plan remains unfinished after years.

Shooting Injures Las Cruces Man at East Mesa Home

Apr 14, 2021

  Las Cruces police are investigating a shooting that injured a man at an East Mesa home Wednesday morning.
 
Shortly before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 14, Las Cruces police were dispatched to the report of a shooting victim at a home on the 4900 block of Calle Bella Court. Officers arrived to find a man with an apparent gunshot wound to his leg. The victim was transported to a local hospital with injuries believed to be non-life-threatening.
 
The suspect was last seen leaving the area. His whereabouts are not known at this time.
 

Nash Jones / KUNM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Albuquerque Public Schools is ramping up its efforts to get vaccines to students.

Operations chief Gabriella Duran Blakey says 50 students were included in a vaccine clinic Wednesday as part of a partnership between the school district and city health workers. Next week, the school district says it will aim the power of its mailing lists and social media at students to encourage them to register for the vaccines being offered in New Mexico.

  SANTA FE – New Mexico state health officials on Wednesday announced 222 additional COVID-19 cases and 8 deaths. As of today, there are 114 individuals hospitalized in New Mexico for COVID-19. This number may include individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 out of state but are currently hospitalized in New Mexico. This number does not include New Mexicans who tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been transferred to a hospital out of state.

Elephant Butte Dam / Sarah Tory-High Country News

  Santa Fe, NM: The Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department’s (EMNRD) State Parks Division announces that State Parks are returning to normal seasonal operations now that restrictions in the Public Health Order have been lifted. COVID-safe practices are still in place, including group size limits depending on county tier status, social distancing, and mask wearing.

Beginning April 16th, camping opportunities will be expanded in many parks. Some parks will now allow camping without an online reservation, but reservations ahead of time are still strongly encouraged. Limited dispersed camping in undeveloped sites will be allowed in some parks. With different seasonal closures in effect, the public is encouraged to “know before you go” and check the website for specific park information before you embark on your next adventure.

Santa Fe--On Thursday, April 15th, at 8:00 am Mountain Time, New Mexico Secretary of Health Dr. Tracie Collins will testify before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation, Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. The hearing is entitled “Shot of Truth: Communicating Trusted Vaccine Information” and can be viewed here.

Dr. Collins will discuss New Mexico’s efforts to disseminate accurate, timely information about vaccine safety to rural areas and communities of color - as well as to encourage more New Mexicans to get vaccinated.

Joy Harjo

  EL PASO, Texas — The University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Creative Writing announced that Joy Harjo, second-term Poet Laureate of the United States, will participate in a virtual reading and conversation at 5 p.m. MDT Friday, April 16, 2021.

Harjo, the 23rd U.S. Poet Laureate and the first Native American to hold that post, is one of the most important living U.S. poets, said Daniel Chacon, professor and chair of the Department of Creative Writing. He said the fact that she was asked to serve a second term speaks to her cultural and literary significance.

  Las Cruces Public Schools launched a survey Wednesday to assess how well the district provides support and opportunities for all students and staff, or where improvements can be made.  

The Equity and Inclusion Diagnostic Survey is anonymous and will be distributed to all LCPS families, staff and students in grades six through 12. Dr. Roberto Lozano, the district’s Associate Superintendent for Equity, Innovation and Social Justice, says the survey will provide a foundation for the Equity Council in the upcoming school year.  

Visit El Paso

The Paso del Norte World Affairs Council held a virtual panel with University of Texas El Paso’s Dr. Tom Fullerton to discuss economic predictions for 2021’s 3rd and 4th quarter.

Fullerton says recovery from the pandemic will increase the price of regular gasoline.

The price of regular gasoline is expected to increase at a double-digit rate in 2021, and for the year as a whole, gasoline prices in El Paso County should average $2.22 per gallon. Anytime that gasoline and diesel prices increase, it will cause the transportation costs for households and local businesses to increase enormously,” said Fullerton.

The positive aspect of the increase in gas prices reflects a return to economic normalcy.

Las Cruces Projects Included In New Mexico Capital Outlay

Apr 14, 2021

LAS CRUCES - The capital outlay bill signed last week by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham includes more than $28 million in funding for projects in Dona Ana County, as well as millions for other projects in southern New Mexico.

The bill funds more than $511 million in projects throughout the state, including roughly $64 million for water and wastewater improvements, $53 million for roads, $49 million for higher education, $48 million for public safety and $8 million for acequias, dams and ditches. There is also $12.5 million to support Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) projects and $10 million for health facilities and prisons.

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